• 21 March 2024


Yesterday was the first eventful day of the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival, the short film festival of the Venetian lagoon. Now in its fourteenth edition, the Festival was inaugurated at the Auditorium Santa Margherita by Elti Cattaruzza, Pro-rector of the Right to Study and Services to Students at Ca’ Foscari, who conveyed the greetings from Dean Tiziana Lippiello. Following this, Paola Mar, Councillor of the City of Venice, underscored the communicative power of the short film as an artistic materialization of young people’s ideas. Taking the stage, General Director of the Venice Foundation, Giovanni Dell’Olivo, praised the courageous dialogue between cultures promoted by the Festival. The spotlight then turned to Artistic Director Maria Roberta Novielli, who extended her heartfelt thanks to the audience, acknowledging especially the 200 students involved in the event and all the young directors in the competition.

The main guest of the day was Joanna Quinn, Oscar-nominated British animation icon, and Emmy and BAFTA winner. In conversation with animation expert Davide Giurlando, Quinn recounted the beginning of her career in London, where she created her first short, Girls Night Out (1986), as a final project for her degree in graphic design. The artist revealed that, although she initially did not believe she could pursue a career in the field, she decided to present the short film at the Annecy Animation Festival, where it won three awards, thus gaining recognition in the world of animation. After screening Girls Night Out, Giurlando noted Quinn’s feminist commitment, highlighting how the main character, Beryl, represents not only working women but, above all, aesthetically realistic ones. Subsequently, the audience was able to appreciate the political commitment of the artist during the screening of Britannia, a five-minute journey into the heart of British imperialism.

Quinn then proceeded to briefly outline her creative process, highlighting how this dedicated and refined approach as an animator is not merely technical, but is also a glimpse on her soul. She shared that, after having spent years working in advertising, she felt a calling to the world of art, and she transposed this desire in the character of Bery, in her latest, Oscar-nominated masterpiece which was then screened. This is Affairs of the Art, a work overflowing with emotions and reflections on loss and on the characters’ dreams.

Concluding the session, Quinn gifted the audience a precious experience, sharing, in a veritable workshop, technical advice, drafts and projects for her animations, with the help of a camera positioned on her work table and by placing various folders on the stage, for them to be seen by anyone curious to observe the drawings that came to life in her short films.

During the evening, the first six of the thirty short films selected for the International Competition, representing film schools and universities from 28 countries, were screened. La notte opened the screening, a short film by Italian Martina Generali, Simone Pratola, Francesca Sofia Rosso, produced by the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia of Turin. The short film is inspired by Concerto RV 439 “La Notte” by Antonio Vivaldi, and is set during a party at the Venice Carnival, where, amidst gastronomic opulence and the precious masks, Pulcinella crashed the party and, inadvertently,  unveiled the hollowness of the reality around him and in his dreams.

Following, Panic at the Wedding was screened, a short film by Tunisian director Haythem Ben Hmida. The film is dedicated by the director “to the martyrs of the marriage institution in Tunisia”. Displaying the main character’s death by suffocation, occurring precisely during her wedding, and ironically portraying the paradoxical disinterest that follows the event, the director successfully demonstrates how, according to him, marriage in Tunisia in “the grave of love stories”.

The, it was the turn of The Borders Never Die, by Iranian director Hamidreza Arjomandi. Telling the story of two Kurdish future parents and their journey, the director explains the complexity of the existence of those people that, due to war, must face the loss, among many other things, of that place they used to call home. The short film triggers a profound reflection which demands empathy and awareness regarding the various “here-and-nows”, not all peaceful, of our world.

It was followed by Game, Interrupted by the Turkish director Ilayda Iseri. Here, at the dawn of the 1979 military coup, two children spend their time playing, but an unexpected visit comes at their door. This film touches on the topic of war and the marks it leaves on the youngsters. A similar theme is the one Syrian director Mohamad W. Ali deals with in his Father’s Footsteps, which presents the war not as an event in itself, but in relation to its effects that spare no one: from the father who dies to the mother who overcomes all obstacles to protect her son.

From Syria, the Competition moved to Kazakhstan with Polina Khalenko and her Something’s Wrong, depicting a life that repeats endlessly and a man who is deprived of everything – even of the possibility of dying – and who finds the courage to break the cycle, after having realized that his wife and daughter are lying to him.

In the afternoon the curator of the East Asia Now, Stefano Locati took the stage: this year Locati presented four new short films coming from Japan, Myanmar, Singapore and the Philippines. The short films presented touched on different issues, from friendship to loneliness, from the emptiness of our social media-based society to sense of guilt, all tied together by an intimate, almost transcendental approach. The first one was Two of Us, by Japanese director Igarashi Kohei, an ode to friendship and disillusion. Following, the short film from Myanmar The Altar, directed by Moe Myat May Zarchi, a Buddhist fairytale on guilt, narrated through photography, animation and ambient sound. The third short film was Bagasi, by Singaporean director Nelson Yeo, a surrealist story on a woman dragging a heavy bag around the nocturnal streets of the suburbs. A Filipino short film closed the program: Primetime Mother, directed by Sonny Calvento, is a satire on the merciless and exploitative nature of show business.

The day began with Short Meets Venezia Comics and WeShort, a space dedicated to two of the Festival partners. WeShort is a platform proposing short films on demand, that has been closely collaborating with the Festival for years. Its founder, Alessandro Loprieno, is a judge in one of the Short’s special mentions. This year, WeShort has also presented an original work: Safari is a dramatic short film, in which Leonardo Balestrieri navigated the issue of the LGBTQIA+ world.

Following, Young Filmakers at Ca’ Foscari-VIU was presented, a space which has offered the audience videos and short films created by students of Ca’ Foscari University and the Venice International University. Ca’ Foscari student Elizaveta Zalieva showcased her two latest short films, focusing on the way in which routine is assimilated within the artistic practice, as well as on the unbreakable bond between human beings and their environment. To conclude, the short films of the summer school Films in Venice and Filming Venice were presented. This education program, coming to its fifth edition, welcomes twenty students from all over the world working on cinematic projects based on the city of Venice.